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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 26

Like Ptah, Ea also developed from an artisan god into a sublime Creator in the highest sense, not merely as a producer of crops. His word became the creative force; he named those things he desired to be, and they came into existence. "Who but Ea creates things", exclaimed a priestly poet. This change from artisan god to creator (Nudimmud) may have been due to the tendency of early religious cults to attach to their chief god the attributes of rivals exalted at other centres.

Ea, whose name is also rendered Aa, was identified with Ya, Ya'u, or Au, the Jah of the Hebrews. "In Ya-Daganu, 'Jah is Dagon'", writes Professor Pinches, "we have the elements reversed, showing a wish to identify Jah with Dagon, rather than Dagon with Jah; whilst another interesting name, Au-Aa, shows an identification of Jah with Aa, two names which have every appearance of being etymologically connected." Jah's name "is one of the words for 'god' in the Assyro-Babylonian language".[38]

Ea was "Enki", "lord of the world", or "lord of what is beneath"; Amma-ana-ki, "lord of heaven and earth"; Sa-kalama, "ruler of the land", as well as Engur, "god of the abyss", Naqbu, "the deep", and Lugal-ida, "king of the river". As rain fell from "the waters above the firmament", the god of waters was also a sky and earth god.

The Indian Varuna was similarly a sky as well as an ocean god before the theorizing and systematizing Brahmanic teachers relegated him to a permanent abode at the bottom of the sea. It may be that Ea-Oannes and Varuna were of common origin.

Another Babylonian deity, named Dagan, is believed to be identical with Ea. His worship was certainly of great antiquity. "Hammurabi", writes Professor Pinches, "seems to speak of the Euphrates as being 'the boundary of Dagan', whom he calls his creator. In later inscriptions the form Daguna, which approaches nearer to the West Semitic form (Dagon of the Philistines), is found in a few personal names.[39]

It is possible that the Philistine deity Dagon was a specialized form of ancient Ea, who was either imported from Babylonia or was a sea god of more than one branch of the Mediterranean race. The authorities are at variance regarding the form and attributes of Dagan. Our knowledge regarding him is derived mainly from the Bible. He was a national rather than a city god. There are references to a Beth-dagon[40], "house or city of Dagon"; he had also a temple at Gaza, and Samson destroyed it by pulling down the two middle pillars which were its main support.[41] A third temple was situated in Ashdod. When the captured ark of the Israelites was placed in it the image of Dagon "fell on his face", with the result that "the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left".[42] A further reference to "the threshold of Dagon" suggests that the god had feet like Ea-Oannes. Those who hold that Dagon had a fish form derive his name from the Semitic "dag = a fish", and suggest that after the idol fell only the fishy part (dāgo) was left. On the other hand, it was argued that Dagon was a corn god, and that the resemblance between the words Dagan and Dagon are accidental. Professor Sayce makes reference in this connection to a crystal seal from Phoenicia in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, bearing an inscription which he reads as Baal-dagon. Near the name is an ear of corn, and other symbols, such as the winged solar disc, a gazelle, and several stars, but there is no fish. It may be, of course, that Baal-dagon represents a fusion of deities. As we have seen in the case of Ea-Oannes and the deities of Mendes, a fish god may also be a corn god, a land animal god and a god of ocean and the sky. The offering of golden mice representing "your mice that mar the land",[43] made by the Philistines, suggests that Dagon was the fertilizing harvest god, among other things, whose usefulness had been impaired, as they believed, by the mistake committed of placing the ark of Israel in the temple at Ashdod. The Philistines came from Crete, and if their Dagon was imported from that island, he may have had some connection with Poseidon, whose worship extended throughout Greece. This god of the sea, who is somewhat like the Roman Neptune, carried a lightning trident and caused earthquakes. He was a brother of Zeus, the sky and atmosphere deity, and had bull and horse forms. As a horse he pursued Demeter, the earth and corn goddess, and, like Ea, he instructed mankind, but especially in the art of training horses. In his train were the Tritons, half men, half fishes, and the water fairies, the Nereids. Bulls, boars, and rams were offered to this sea god of fertility. Amphitrite was his spouse.


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